I first encountered William Bradford’s supposed First Thanksgiving Proclamation when my family and I enjoyed Thanksgiving dinner at the home of some dear friends from our church. Knowing that I was a historian, the host pulled me aside before the meal to tell me that he had found the text of Governor Bradford’s proclamation calling for the First Thanksgiving, and that he planned to read it before asking the blessing. Here is what he had found:
Inasmuch as the great Father has given us this year an abundant harvest of Indian corn, wheat, peas, beans, squashes, and garden vegetables, and has made the forests to abound with game and the sea with fish and clams, and inasmuch as he has protected us from the ravages of the savages, has spared us from pestilence and disease, has granted us freedom to worship God according to the dictates of our own conscience.
Now I, your magistrate, do proclaim that all ye Pilgrims, with your wives and ye little ones, do gather at ye meeting house, on ye hill, between the hours of 9 and 12 in the day time, on Thursday, November 29th, of the year of our Lord one thousand six hundred and twenty-three and the third year since ye Pilgrims landed on ye Pilgrim Rock, there to listen to ye pastor and render thanksgiving to ye Almighty God for all His blessings.
Ye Governor of Ye Colony
Although I was uncomfortable contradicting my host, I felt compelled to tell him that this was a hoax. Can you figure out why?